Builder Marketing Opportunities Are Online - Your Shrinking Audience Your Growing Opportunity
By Brian Flook, MIRM
In new home marketing beware the urge to repeat the proven, regardless of past results. The temptation to continue doing what worked before is nearly irresistible. Whether it's using your 'go to' fishing lure, driving the same route you're used to driving, or repeating the same series of lucky steps to ensure your luck hunting white tail deer; people have a tendency to stick to the tried and true. Why do some religious systems hold on to traditions and practices that feel so outdated and have no relevance to people today? It's time to change the way you market new homes.
Builders are no different! Why do we continue to use marketing methods like bulk direct mail that have a dependable failure rate of 99%? Why are we satisfied that our sales team has a failure rate of 95% when it comes to closing sales? Why do we accept that our sales teams generally only follow up with 35%-40% (if your lucky) of the hard-earned traffic you paid dearly for? Why? The Internet beckons for your attention with incredible new opportunities. Are you interested?
There's an entirely new day upon us. New home marketing has changed so radically that many builders only recognize that their results have faltered, few understand why. What happened? What changed? What do we do now?
Marketing is Changing
I believe the foundational premise behind most marketing has changed! We've spent decades crafting messages to deliver to our prospects. Those methods are known as outbound marketing. But guess what, your prospects aren't listening... unless they want to. We've been relying on the interruptive model of marketing, only using mediums we have grown accustomed to: television, direct mail, print, radio, etc. We ask questions like, "How can we make enough noise to be heard?" "What time do we run the ad to best reach our target audience?" "Should we run in the Washington Post?" All legitimate questions, but not always the correct ones. You're determined to convince prospective buyers to choose your homes. Your marketing is like mining for gold - the assumption is that if you move enough dirt, you'll find some gold. Makes sense, right?
In this present day of new home marketing, I believe your challenge is to bring the prospective customers to your message, not the opposite. That's known as inbound marketing. Buyers have many choices and oh do they choose. They have time, information, easy and quick access, and variety on their side. They no longer have a great deal of tolerance for our marketing preference to intrude into their lives. I call it selective marketing and simply stated it means the customer chooses the marketing stimulus they want, when they want it, and how they want it. According to onlinevideowatch.com, the average YouTube user watches around 50 videos a month. According to Chad Hurley, YouTube CEO and co-founder, "YouTube's short-form and low-quality, audience-generated videos are attracting about 20 million unique visitors a month. The average video length viewed is 2 1/2 minutes long."
Today, consumers choose you... or not.
The prevalence of the Internet over the last ten years took many builders by surprise. Even today, many don't have websites, let alone take advantage of the many other new forms of marketing opportunity: social media, blogging, portals, search engine optimization (SEO), social media optimization (SMO), e-mailing, online PR, listing sites and broad based sales sites like Craig's list. Be careful though, the Internet is not an advertising medium in the same sense as the Washington Post or Time Magazine. Actually, when it comes to reaching mass markets in an intrusive manner, the Internet is really bad. But that's not the best way to use the Internet. That's like using a GPS system to find something in a city your not familiar with without an address. Like the Internet, GPS systems are much more efficient and capable of finding a needle in a haystack, but only if you know your needle.
Is it time to dump the tried and true marketing methods?
The challenge, as stated in the opening paragraph, is to know when to walk away from the accepted, occasionally proven, traditional marketing methods, and when to run. I once heard a story about a woman who always cut the ends off her roasts before she cooked them. Someone asked her why she did it. "I'm not sure, my mom always did it so I do it," she replied. Her curiosity piqued, the woman called her mother and asked, "why did you always cut the end off a big roast before cooking it, mom?" Her reply, "my pan was too small."
Resist the temptation to repeat what you've always done because you've always done it.
Last summer, a client hired me to write copy for a series of 60-second radio spots we purchased for a three-month, multi-media campaign we were kicking off in July. My initial reaction was the tried and true: get a stopwatch and craft the copy. Done! But then it occurred to me that maybe the 60-second spot was a bad idea. "Why not convert three months of 60-second commercials with lots of fluff into three months worth of 10-second commercials that hit the point, fast, furious, way more often, and dead-on target... wham bam! I did it; I broke the mold and did it differently. You can too. And it worked!
Just a few crazy thoughts: How about we build the homes our customers' want, not the ones we want our customers to want? Let's make our websites a dynamic experience of design, involvement and creativity. If I can go to BMW's website and build my Beamer with up to 130,000,000 possibilities, why can't we do it for prospective homebuyers? How about we create a cooperative venture in a new community and allow the homebuyers to become creatively and financially involved and throw in some sweat equity at the same time. Do you think their level of participation and buy-in would go up? Let's offer to list our potential buyer's house - the one they need to sell - on our website.
The Internet has opened up new worlds to us. But they're smaller, more focused, and less tolerant of marketing advances than ever. What do we do? How do we capitalize on this monumental opportunity? The advent of television opened advertising and marketing up to the masses in ways that up until then were impossible. The Internet has introduced us to micro-opportunities that we've yet to know how to reach. But, we must not only reach them, we must know what they want, how they want it, and how they want the good news delivered.
Here's an example of the power of the Internet reaching micro-opportunities. In June of 2007, Neal Schon (Guitarist for the popular rock band Journey) was searching for a replacement for the bands singer, Steve Perry. He was watching videos and viewed a video of the band The Zoo on YouTube. The lead singer, Arnel Pineda, immediately enthralled Schon and he sent Pineda an email for an audition. Arnel Pineda thought it was a joke and consequently ignored the inquiry. It wasn't a joke! Arnel Pineda debuted as the lead singer of Journey on Feb. 21, 2008. The rest is history.
When you understand the nearly unlimited marketing power of the Internet and begin leveraging it to your company's value; you will open up a can of marketing whoopee that you will never want to close. The Internet holds the key to recovering the market you've lost. Yes, your audience is shrinking, but your opportunity is growing leaps and bounds.
If you would like to learn more about the power of the Internet and how it can help you grow your building company, or if you would like a copy of Brian's new book, Master What Matters; contact Brian Flook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-932-0494. About Power Marketing - Founded in 1992, Power Marketing and Advertising, LLC is a privately held full-service real estate marketing and sales firm that assists residential builders and commercial builders, developers and real estate companies with maximizing their resources to improve their brand identity and sales success. From on-site sales center creation to crafting an Internet Presence, Power Marketing has the experience to improve your marketing results. With over 20 years experience in the industry, Power Marketing & Advertising, LLC continues to help businesses throughout North America excel in their marketplace. For more information, call 800-932-0494, or visit http://www.power-marketing.com.